Last night Lawrence Lessig spoke at Dartmouth College about Rebooting our Government. I’ve read Lessig’s articles and listened to his lectures before, and seeing him speak in person was quite a treat.
Lessig’s lecture highlighted his mission to give control of our government back to the people — to the citizens of the US. Fix Congress First is one of the groups encouraging this reform, and I suggest that you go check out their website right now!
Part of giving the Citizenry control is making sure that everyone has free, open access to all of our laws and court case records. Federal court records are in the public domain and are available online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) electronic record system, however access to the PACER system is billed using a per-page rate.
Because the documents in PACER are public domain, once a document is accessed, it may be distributed without restriction or additional fee. As a result, several groups are currently working on opening the vast archive of documents in PACER so that anyone can access any of them, at any time, with no fees or strings attached.
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I’m still hesitant to call it any kind of ritual, but as I’ve done it for a few years it has become a bit of a habit for me to compile a long list of projects and groups and to then dole-out money to all of my favorite freedom-loving FOSS and Open Content organizations.
I try to get my donations in by the 1st quarter of the year, but as this year has been so hectic for me, moving offices around and such, I had to push off the ritual until May. Okay, fine. Maybe it is a ritual for me now!
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This link will likely die in a couple of months, but here’s the current link to the survey.
I picked up a hard copy of the survey in the Lebanon store, and quickly found that I was much more interested in dissecting the survey than actually answering all of the questions. The survey comprised several pages of questions, and some of them required quite a lot of concentration to answer correctly. Some questions seemed repetitious, and other questions seemed to have too much ambiguity for me to feel comfortable answering.
So, on with the show!
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A few years ago, along with many of you code-composing, free-and-open-Internet-loving hackers out there, I happily plunked down my hard-earned cash (in the form of a credit card online, but you can’t really plunk down plastic, can you?) and received from the Electronic Frontier Foundation a number of stickers including one with the words Coding is Not a Crime.
One of my Coding is Not a Crime stickers adorns my laptop of the era, one is filed away somewhere I can’t find at the moment, and one I remember giving away to a friend. Perhaps my favorite sticker of all time, I had no doubts that the EFF would continue to make them and we donation-willing sort would continue to pay perhaps a little above market price for them, happy to fill the coffers of the Defenders of our Digital Rights in the process.
Speaking of software patents, it appears that there’s an interesting article up on opensource.com about software patents and 20th century vs. 21st century business models written by RedHat’s president and CEO, Jim Whitehurst.
Except I can’t show it to you. But not for the usual reasons…
Update: I’ve found the full text and included it at the bottom of this post.
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I was chatting with some friends the other day about patents and software and how the twain should never have become such good friends, when an idea popped into my head about software patents.
Software patents, as you might assume, are patents that cover software. These patents don’t cover a particular implementation of an algorithm or series of algorithms, as one can with a copyright, but instead cover the algorithm itself….implemented on a general purpose computer.
“What, what?,” I hear you saying “but how can this be? Algorithms and math are not patentable in the US.” And while you are correct when you say that math and algorithms are not directly patentable in the US, you have missed a most devious and ridiculous loophole, first allowed by the US Patent Office, and then later perpetuated by the courts. An otherwise unpatentable algorithm, when loaded on to a “general purpose computer“, suddenly becomes part of a patentable whole.
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Yes, ladies and gents, you are looking at the proud owner of a new domain weighing approximately…well, howevermuch a bunch of electrons weigh these days. Actually, you’re looking at your computer screen, as am I gazing upon mine as I thwack upon my keys, composing this blog post, but let’s look past that little detail in the interests of moving things along, shall we?
In true wömblian fashion (and yes, you naysayers, that umlauted beauty tucked neatly into the beginning of this sentence is indeed a word, at least in the environs of this website) I have procured a domain entirely appropriate for me. Without meaning to hurt any feelings, whether it is appropriate for you or not is not really any of my concern at the moment. It’s my domain, I’m hanging on to it, and you can’t have it. So there!
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It’s great to be back in Portland (Oregon), if only for a short time. Each year around Christmas I come back and spend the holidays here, soaking up all of the lovely rain and cloudy skies as I expect a native Californian might soak up the sun and warm beaches when returning home on Holiday.
There’s always so much to do and so much to see in Portland. Living in a relatively small community in New England means that coming back to Portland is almost like venturning to a large city. Portland will never be a large city like New York or Boston to me, but there do seem to be new buildings popping up like weeds, and the traffic always seems a bit heavier each year. I say seems as it does seem that way, although I am wary that I might just be wistfully imagining a more perfect past Portland, the way that everything was larger when you were younger and the way that men’s suits, a salesman told me today, always seem to shrink in the closet.
Wow. It’s been a really long week, but the weekend is just about here.
I saw the notice on the WordPress blog about the “Giving Thanks” contest earlier this week and knew that it was just the right kick-in-the-pants to get me to try out the MiniDV camera that I recently purchased on eBay. So I grabbed a few of my friends, asked them what they’re thankful for, and cut it all together into a short video. Thirty seconds isn’t that much time, especially when your friends are so voluble!
I wasn’t really sure how this film would turn out. I shot a lot of footage, but as I only had 30 seconds for the final cut I had to really pare things down to make sure that I could include a clip of each person.
Filming each person was fun. Pure and simple. Each person had their own unique quirks and mannerisms that really came out when they were put in front of a camera lens. Percy with the sheep, Alex with a ping pong ball, and a highly-caffeinated Nida all presented unique challenges when filming (such as keeping the subject in frame!) and offered not only different answers to “For what are you thankful?”, but even took different approaches to answering the questions.
Okay, enough chatter from me. Here’s the meat of this post, the video:
I was recently discussing Revelations and the Rapture with some of my friends. Apparently there’s an outfit called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA that has assembled a group of Atheists willing to take care of pets if/when the Rapture occurs (for a nominal fee).
At first thought, the whole thing does sounds a bit contrived, but the execution is rather extensive and well thought out. The group’s website even includes a useful FAQ page that includes such Q&A’s as
- How do you ensure that your representatives won’t be Raptured?
- How can we trust that you’ll honor your service agreement, afterall you ARE atheists. [sic]
- What if one of my family members is left behind? Will you still take possession of my pet?
I mean, it would be rather…unfortunate, shall we say, if 3 out of 4 family members were Raptured and the 4th one somehow didn’t make the cut. Three people would be up in Heaven, while the odd man out would be on Earth, in what are estimated to be pretty harrowing conditions.
So you might be wondering: What happens post-Rapture to all the people and stuff left on the planet? Does God just CTRL-A, CTRL-X everything left on Earth?
Well, not exactly. If you’re not familiar with the general conditions, they include asteroids hitting the Earth, the crust of the Earth breaking open, locusts and other animals scurrying about stinging people, and the oceans turning to blood. Yes, blood.
If you’re anything like me, one of the first questions you might ask is: I wonder if there’s enough Iron on Earth to turn the oceans to blood?